Pope Francis on Monday accepted the resignations of three Chilean bishops following sex-abuse scandals — including Bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of witnessing but failing to report abuse, the Vatican announced Monday.
In addition to the 61-year-old Barros, of Osorno, the pope accepted the resignations of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt.
Of the three, only Barros is below the retirement age of 75. Francis named temporary leaders for each of the dioceses.
The Vatican’s announcement comes after an unprecedented move by all of Chile’s 34 bishops, who recently offered to resign en masse after attending a crisis meeting with the pope over allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse in the South American nation.
It was not immediately clear if Monday’s move meant Francis would not accept any of the other resignations.
Barros’ removal was met with praise by abuse survivors and Catholics in Osorno, who warned that more resignations and actions are needed to heal the damage caused by the scandal.
“A new day has begun in Chile’s Catholic Church!” tweeted Juan Carlos Cruz, the abuse survivor who denounced Barros for years and pressed for the Vatican to take action.
“I’m thrilled for all those who have fought to see this day,” he said. “The band of delinquent bishops … begins to disintegrate today.”
Barros has been at the center of the scandal ever since Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno in 2015 over the objections of the local faithful, his own sex-abuse prevention advisers and some of Chile’s other bishops.
They questioned Barros’ suitability to lead given he had been a top lieutenant of Chile’s most notorious predator priest and had been accused by victims of witnessing and ignoring their abuse.
Barros has denied the allegations.
Francis has vowed that Chilean Catholics scarred by a culture of clergy sexual abuse that “never again” would the Church ignore them or the cover-up of abuse in their country.
The scandal surrounds Father Fernando Karadima, who
was found guilty in a 2011 Vatican probe of abusing boys in Santiago in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now 87 and living in a nursing home in Chile, Karadima has always denied any wrongdoing.
The Vatican’s most experienced sexual-abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, visited Chile this year to look into the scandal. He has been sent back to Chile to gather more information.
With Post Wires
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